Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Father Checks Son into Rehab

I received a call from a guy I know, someone with a son around the same age as my son who is 23.  Let's call the man "Joe" and his son "Mike."

Joe had seen his son slide downhill starting in high school.  He knew his son was drinking and smoking pot.  He thought there might be other drugs but he didn't know for certain.  There was a lot of upheaval in their home due to their son's choices, and once Mike graduated from school, Joe and his wife told him to go live on his own.  There is a younger son still at home and he didn't need Mike's bad influence.

They hoped that by living on his own, facing the challenges of expensive housing and minimum wage jobs, that he would soon find he needed to change his life, kick his habits and get back on track. 

It didn't happen.  Why not?  Because Joe is an enabler, and when he saw his son in financial need, he opened his checkbook and paid whatever was needed.  This went on for 5 years and created additional stress and worry, strained the marriage and did not help Mike hit bottom.  It delayed the point when Mike might say he needed help.

Finally, Mike came to his parents and said he wanted to go to rehab and he had found a place.  He is supposed to stay a month and they will help him dry out and get him on the path to a drug-free life.  It's great that he's going, and Joe is aware that many addicts have to repeat rehab.

I asked Joe how he felt about all this, and he said that when Mike said he wanted to go, it really hit Joe what the situation really was and he cried, and for the past week he has felt weepy. 

Being the parent of a kid like this is scary, upsetting, and fills one with doubt.  There are no easy answers and no guarantees.  I hope Mike does stay with his program and stays clean, and I hope his parents get the help they need so they don't enable Mike if he falls out of the program.  It's very hard for parents to stay strong and watch their child suffer but worse if you keep bailing them out.

I am the author of "Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens."  You can view more information about the book on my website.